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Charlotte Dogtoberfest raises money to rescue dogs

Charlotte Observer Article – City News:

By Joe Habina,  Correspondent

There were two things in abundanceat the recent Dogtoberfest: the costumed canines the festival supported, and beer.

But that doesn’t mean the rainbow-colored pit bull roaming the grounds was a figment of someone’s spirits-induced imagination.

Whittney Ashwood, a 28-year-old south Charlotte resident, used a product called “doggie dye” to dress her adopted dog named Motown for the festival. They were among the estimated 400 to 500 people and pooches attending Dogtoberfest.

The event was the fifth annual fundraiser held by Dog Days of Charlotte, a nonprofit organization that specializes in rescuing dogs from shelters where they would be euthanized. Dog Days then turns the animals over to foster homes until they can be adopted.

Restaurant and bar Jackalope Jacks hosted the event, and a couple of its neighboring businesses in the 1900 block of 7th Street in Elizabeth opened their parking lots as well.

Dog Days leaders say the festival raised almost $3,000.

“A lot of our fosters were here, and they brought their friends,” said Dog Days co-Director Carly Robinson, 32. “Our main goal was fundraising. We like to be able to provide vet care and provide assistance to our rescue groups.”

Dog Days was founded in 2010 by south Charlotte residents Robinson, Aleah Haene and Leah Lenox, who all worked in various dog-rescue facilities prior to founding Dog Days.

Co-Director Laura Towns and volunteer Monica Bandstra also are heavily involved in the organization’s daily operations. Dog Days is operated by volunteers, and some of the co-directors say they donate up to 40 hours each week.

The organization relies heavily on social media and word of mouth to recruit dogs into the program and get them rescued.

“We pull dogs from high-kill facilities from local communities, usually on the day or a couple days before their euthanization date,” Robinson said. “We find foster homes to give them a safe haven. We coordinate events where animals can be examined by veterinarians.”

Dog Days leaders estimate they save 1,200 dogs each year. Through volunteer contacts, some of the dogs are transported to dog rescue organizations in northern states as far as Vermont. They say it costs about $100 to transport one dog to out-of-state agencies.

In addition to dog rescues, Dog Days also provides pet supplies such as food and bedding, and transportation for spay and neutering appointments.

Howver, “What we really need is foster homes,” Robinson said. “All it takes is a loving and stable home to keep the dog safer. It can take a couple days to a couple of months, depending on what rescue agency they’re with.

“Some are required to go to adoption events. Some fosters end up adopting their dogs.”

Dog Days is not the only organization of its kind in Charlotte. The Greater Charlotte SPCA and Catering to Cats and Dogs were two of the rescue agencies that attended the Oct. 25 Dogtoberfest. The agencies often work together.

Ashwood and colleague Christy Morton work for Carolina Doggie Playland, a South End dog day care that often fosters some of Dog Days’ rescue dogs. Ashwood fostered her colorful pit bull Motown about four years ago, and eventually adopted him.

“He’s a rescue dog,” Ashwood said. “We found him on the streets. He’s maybe 10-12 years old. We got him all fixed up and he’s just the best dog ever.”

Matthews resident Katie Pike was at Dogtoberfest representing the Greater Charlotte SPCA.

“We send someone to the home to check to make sure everything is OK,” Pike said. “We have an application process because we also screen our applicants and make sure you’re a good fit for the dog. It’s kind of a long process, but it gets the dog the perfect home.”

For more information, visit or on Facebook at Foster for Dog Days of Charlotte.

Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at

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